It was a turbulent time in the mid-60s: We were in the midst of a cold war; America was being torn apart with racial strife and deeply divided over the Vietnam War; and there was a worldwide eruption of youth, demanding a voice in their affairs and the affairs of their countries. The only policy seemed to be, “How quickly can we shut them up?” J. Blanton Belk thought that if we could harness that energy and give them a positive voice it might touch the world.
This is the story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary vision. J. Blanton Belk was born and educated in the South, the son of a dedicated Presbyterian minister, who urged him “to search for ways to make your biggest possible contribution with your life in the world.” The opportunity came in 1965 at a gathering of international young people who cobbled together a rough musical demonstration and Sing Out/Up with People was born. A journey had begun, one that is still today bringing hope and spirit to a troubled world.
This book is a must read for Up with People alumni! Through his amazing memories Mr. Belk takes the concept of “a life well lived” to extraordinary levels, plus shares many anecdotes that I completely ignored about the history of the UWP program. I found it quite inspiring! Plus it reminded me of why his vision was a real calling for me and why do I love traveling. If you believe in the Six Degrees of Separation theory of how we are all connected and you were able to meet Mr. Belk in person at some point, you will see he represents only one degree from so many leaders of the world thoughout history. Incredible life and legacy!
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J. Blanton Belk: It's an unfinished world, and it's still in the making…
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